At the start of the hiring process, the way your employer outlines your responsibilities is often not all-inclusive. So, they may seek other similar tasks over time. However, in some cases, you may be asked to volunteer and do a favor outside of work.
If these new responsibilities mean changing your job role, that’s one thing. But these add up when your boss still expect you to perform the same tasks and complete large projects as before. The Wall Street Journal cautions that doing such favors can be frequent and recurring, and you are not receiving extra payment for it.
You can undermine your performance by constantly helping others and trying to be a team player. That’s why sometimes you must learn to refuse to supercharge your career and productivity.
Unfortunately, you can’t turn down all tasks that aren’t directly related to your job. Attempting to do this may result in a bad reputation and an eventual replacement. So when it comes to training new employees or helping out with large significant events, you need to be flexible.
But a task like updating a spreadsheet or file system, you can probably afford to do these tasks later on. In this situation, compromise with the questioner to explain that there is an enormous task at hand and that someone else may be able to help them with the spreadsheet.
Resist the tendency to give in to all demands too quickly. You don’t want to be a doormat. Figuring out how to keep a work-life balance can be a learning process. Think about the commitments they evaluated in your annual review.
If you don’t limit what you’re willing to do for others, you may give more than you can afford. Think about what can help you get the right attention to boost your career. And think about what wastes time you need for more pressing issues.
Ways to Say No to Busywork and Unrealistic Deadlines
Learning how to say no is a simple skill that differentiates between a peaceful and productive life and a life filled with stress and resentment. It also makes the following differences:
- A jam-packed schedule instead of an open one
- Too many tasks and just the right amount
- Insane working hours versus being stress-free and meeting deadlines
But saying no can be difficult. You may feel uncomfortable about it because you worry it is making others upset, seeming unable to handle the workload, or missing opportunities.
But the truth is that if you never say no, the likelihood of the consequences you fear increases over time. And if you say no as necessary, the possibility of dropping the balls reduces. It also saves your sanity. Here are three critical areas where you can say no to increase your productivity:
- Time Commitments
To significantly add hours to your schedule, you need to start saying no to commitments that don’t make the most of your day. It means stepping away from the path of least resistance – you accept all the demands – and instead, you can ask yourself if this is a good investment of your time.
Suppose your employer asks you to volunteer for a committee. It’s a good initiative but doesn’t align with your passions or professional development goals. It means at least 3 to 5 hours of work each month, totaling 36 to 60 hours a year.
Or, you may be asked to attend a meeting that does not require your attendance. Other members of your team may be a better fit for you. You can decline the meeting invite and say thanks and that you saw the meeting invite. You can recommend someone to represent your team to teach them everything they need to know.
Or, maybe you’ve been invited to lunch with people you meet and have a project to work on, you want to hit the gym, or you want a break. You can say thanks for the invite but already have another appointment. Turning down the time commitments that don’t fit your priorities and needs may be awkward initially, but it will save you time.
Most people have far more tasks on their to-do lists than they can complete on any day. That is especially true for those who try to help everyone before doing their job. But it’s time to say no to break this cycle.
For example, if someone asks you to do something that isn’t your job, you have the right to say no. But if you’ve said yes many times, you may need to retrain and break people out of asking you for every little thing.
You will learn that over time. You can respond by saying that it’s not your area of expertise and give the contact information of your recommended person. You can also forward the request and inform the meeting organizer to prepare a report for the presentation.
If your employer asks you to take on an optional project and you already have more work than you can handle right now, it’s also time to politely decline. You can say that you do not have the time to complete the task. You suggest giving it to someone who will provide it with more time and attention.
Finally, if you’re in a meeting discussing different tasks to accomplish but don’t have time to do more, proceed with caution by saying nothing and not volunteering. Not offering your help is one of the best ways you say no.
- Time Frames
The tasks you need to complete are your responsibility, but the timing of the request causes the problem. In these cases, saying no to inappropriate schedules anytime and anywhere can help.
We all know that workplace expectations vary, so some jobs may not allow you to use these strategies. But for those with a bit more leeway, consider the following ways to extend a proposed deadline.
Even if the deadline is somewhat arbitrary in practice, refute it with another deadline if they ask you to do something small by today. Even if you have a day or two to spare, you can’t turn the frustration of being in the office for too long into a bigger problem.
You can state when you can get back to it. You can say that you don’t have any more available time to help because of your commitments to your boss and clients. Saying these may irritate some people. But time will teach them to pay more attention.
Some departments have set guidelines for the lead time required to process documents, for example, two to three days.
If you get frequent pings in the evenings and weekends and can set a limit, do so. Having no downtime at all can be a significant contributor to burnout. One way to avoid unexpected overtime is to stay away from work phones and emails. You can say that you received their email and will address their request after getting back to the office.
Finally, if your employer or client gives you a large project to complete, but the initial deadline isn’t reasonable because of your other prior commitments, there are several ways you can negotiate. If the situation affects your boss, you can clarify your different priorities and inquire about what to focus on first to give you a sense of direction.
Even if the situation affects someone other than your boss, set boundaries. If you can do so, you can offer a counter-proposal. And if the case involves someone other than your boss and you have no authority to push the deadline, you may need to discuss this with your boss.
In the end, you can say something like you heard that this is due by the end of the month, but hitting this deadline would be impossible because of the ongoing other projects. You can propose to push back the deadline and ask if they find it reasonable.
These conversations can also lead to discussions on rebalancing the work and pulling in other resources like contractors. Even if saying no is not easy, it is indeed worth it. Put these tips or phrases into consideration in your work.
Communicate quickly with confidence and don’t delay so they can take your “no” more easily. Say what you have to say, and then move on. No need to apologize. When you say no, it is saying yes to what matters most.
How to Prioritize Your Professional Development as a Remote Worker or Employee
Making Time for Learning
We all know that learning has its benefits but also takes time, which we don’t always have. Finding space for learning is difficult when there’s your everyday work, a daily commute, precious time with your loved ones, and many household chores.
Getting left behind is a risk when ignoring your professional development. A good example is missing out on opportunities with more significant responsibilities or passing over a promotion. No matter how busy you are, there are strategies you can explore.
What is Professional Development?
Professional development means improving your knowledge and skills by taking positive steps towards a supercharged career. If you take ownership of your personal development, you are helping yourself. You’ll have confidence and empowerment in your abilities.
Dedicating your time to building up your expertise will make your boss, clients, and colleagues look at you as someone who makes an intelligent, valuable, and insightful contribution. Your reputation on the team will soon earn you recognition as the go-to person to whom they rely on.
Also, the expert power you have will make it easier to negotiate contracts and win support for your projects. Your value as a professional will also go up. If your name has a long list of skills, your position is more marketable. You can take projects that are new and challenging and even earn a promotion.
Create a Professional Development Plan
Research shows that we spend 72 hours per week working. Regardless of your busy work schedule, prioritize your professional development by following these eight practical strategies:
- Focus on Objectives
Giving up will likely happen to you because there’s no visibility of the benefits. After all, why should you bother if you are not getting anywhere? Your sense of purpose must be strong to draw up your objectives in learning.
Start listing the knowledge and skills you want to learn. After that, break those down into short- or long-term goals and add them to your daily To-Do List or Action Program. Write these goals into SMART, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.
Make your action plan clear. It helps get you organized and makes your learning time more effective. Your self-discipline strengthens and your motivation boosts. Your progress is measurable too. Doing this will give you clear visibility of how valuable it is to continue your professional development.
- Manage Obstacles and Distractions
Next is to identify the obstacles so that sticking to your learning schedule won’t be difficult. To help you overcome each one, you must go through them and brainstorm strategies.
One example is to create a plan for using your time in your daily commute to commit to learning. An obstacle you may encounter is the distraction created from receiving emails and messages.
Commit to your learning schedule by reserving your commute time. Wait until you arrive at work to open your emails and review your list of daily to-dos. Write this down as a contract to hold yourself accountable.
- Make Learning a Habit
Having a learning habit makes the changes positive and long-lasting, and the goals you set become achievable. If you do this, your daily routine will build learning. Also, set a daily time schedule and stick to it.
Whatever you decide to do, ensure that you do it in a routine. A good example is to begin working early Mondays and Wednesdays to have a new skill practice or study at a specific time in the day. If you’re going to do it, be clear on what it is, the location, and the time duration you’ll devote yourself to it.
- Set Boundaries
Other people can be one of the biggest distractions. You can spend some time reading new industry developments or finishing an online assessment during your lunch. Since it’s late for other people to realize this, work continues to send requests. When this happens, saying no becomes difficult.
If you value your learning time, be assertive in protecting it, but not in a rude or inflexible way. You can be firm and friendly. Give your colleague an explanation of your goal and when your time out is so they may respect it.
- Make Every Minute Count
When you have something new to learn, many assumptions about needing large chunks of time but having short blocks has the same effect, mainly when you focus. Since every moment you have comes with an impact, maximizing it is the key.
First, you’ll take a look at your To-Do List to know which ones are achievable in your available time. Sparing 10 minutes of your time is already an opportunity to use for extra learning. Ensure your energy focuses on it to be effective.
For example, go to a quiet place, log out of your messaging apps, or turn your phone off to minimize distractions. If your available time limits you in maximizing every moment, you can strategize through mind mapping, speed reading, and training resources.
- Learn at Your Best
After people complete everything else, they choose to work on their professional development. It can be tempting, but you have to consider the exhaustion and how you would feel after ticking off everything on your list.
Know what time of the day you have high energy levels and set a schedule of your learning on it since you are in the zone. A good example is in the morning when you’re buzzing with energy. Then, take it slow after your lunch.
- Find Your Learning Style
Each of us has our ways of learning. Reading and taking notes are preferable to some, while others do things. Identifying your style of learning will make you efficient. Don’t waste time slogging through a textbook if you can gain more by learning from engaging videos. Finding the best form of learning for each task suits a different learning style.
- Collaborate With Others
Focusing on your primary objectives is easier since someone can check on your progress. Your experience in learning will become more fun and engaging with the company of others. Because of them, your motivation remains, and they’ll give you support and advice.
Seek your colleague’s interest in learning and their available time. Then create a study group, spend some learning time with them, and run a lunch-and-learn event. Together, do an online course or join a class.
LinkedIn and Twitter are among the social media sites where you can find professionals in the same industry who offer training and advice or show interest in learning.
Finding available learning time for professional development is a struggle, but you’ll enjoy its many benefits. You can become more capable of handling new responsibilities and challenges. You will have enhanced professional value, and your expertise will build up.
Phoenix Virtual Solutions is not just an offshore outsourcing healthcare virtual staff company but also the best place to work. They let you explore more specialized training activities and can fund a professional course. Their company culture enables you to structure your learning to benefit your role as a remote worker and the business.
Enjoy the feeling of ending the week knowing you are super productive. Use your best judgment and contact Phoenix today to have a happy, successful, and supercharged career!